Every time Dutch writes about his experience as a stay-at-home-dad, we get some comments asking about my perspective, as if there is a natural presumption that I should have some kind of problem with it. Sure, there are times when Dutch calls me at work and hands the phone to Juniper so she can tell me that she is riding the new carousel at the Detroit riverfront or peeing in the kid-sized toilet at the zoo and I can tell from her voice that she thinks it's the most exciting thing she's ever done in her life, and when that happens, I do feel pretty jealous. I don't think that's because I'm a woman--- I know Dutch felt the same way when he was working and I was staying home. Most of the time I don't even think all that critically about our arrangement, because at this point I can't. In our house I really do wear the pants. And here are the reasons why:
- Get up before 8:00 a.m.
- Leave the house, fully dressed, before 8:30 a.m; and, of course, get to work on time
- Brush my hair
- Avoid rolling my eyes or falling asleep during staff meetings
- Engage in polite conversation with my secretary, even when that means we talk about her relationship with her podiatrist for 30 minutes
- Wear dress pants
- Run every day with both a jogging stroller and a high-energy dog
- Tell the story of Medusa 20 times a day, without ever cutting corners or mixing up names
- Make commissioned poop drawings
- Draw more than "J-U-N-I-P" with sidewalk chalk before breaking the chalk and swearing and getting bored; he'd recreate the ceiling of the Sistine chapel on our stoop if he didn't think chalk was so expensive
- Not feel like curling up in a ball on the couch because he's so overwhelmed by the frozen peas, dog hair, and cheerios all mushed together under Juniper's high chair; in fact, I don't even think he sees it
- Spend 8 hours without talking to anyone over 3-feet tall, and still manage to write a novel during nap time
Every family does what makes the most sense given their very particular set of circumstances. That's what we do. In our house, Dutch has an amazing immunity to boredom. The other day, Juniper asked him to make a car and a pirate ship, so instead of ignoring her like any normal person would, he made her a car and a boat out of cardboard. Exhibits A and B:
Sure, they're pretty crappy. But I wouldn't have known where to start. Axles? So when people ask how I feel, I have to say, like Dutch, I feel lucky. My kid has somebody to take care of her who loves her, my husband is happy, and I get to wear nice pants every day that aren't smeared with cookie crumbs or apple juice. And sometimes I even wear a skirt and cute shoes.